Florida Conservatives Push Congress for Immigration Reform

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: May 16, 2014 3:55 AM
Al Cardenas, Justin Sayfie, Brewster Bevis

Al Cardenas, Justin Sayfie, Brewster Bevis

Conservatives from the Sunshine State called on Congress Thursday to pass immigration reform before the end of the year. Immigration reform legislation backed by the “Gang of Eight,” including U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., passed through the Democratic-controlled Senate but it has stalled in the GOP-led U.S. House.

The Partnership for the New American Economy hosted a conference call for the media on Thursday featuring American Conservative Union (ACU) Chairman Al Cardenas, Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) Senior VP Brewster Bevis, Ed Moore from the Florida Center-Right Coalition and attorney and new media figure Justin Sayfie who handled communications for former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla. All four Floridians made the case that conservatives -- including the Republican majority representing the Sunshine State in Congress -- need to make immigration reform.

Calling Florida representative of the nation as a whole, Cardenas insisted there has been unity and bipartisan support of most aspects of immigration reform, including securing the border. “The challenge has been the undocumented,” Cardenas said, adding whatever final bill emerges from the House “may not include a path to citizenship.”

Cardenas pointed to Tallahassee as a model Washington could emulate, noting a bill that allows undocumented aliens who graduate from Florida high schools in-state tuition at state colleges and universities, and one giving an undocumented alien who passed the bar exam the right to practice law in Florida. Both bills passed in the recently closed legislative session. The former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) insisted this was a “message to Washington.”

“In a conservative Legislature like the state of Florida’s, there’s bipartisan support for this,” Cardenas said.

Citing the number of Baby Boomers retiring and the low birthrate, Bevis said immigration reform was needed to ensure a “workforce here in the state of Florida.”

Bevis said the business community and AIF were more concerned with ensuring undocumented aliens had “legal work status” here than creating a path to citizenship.

Noting that no major immigration reform had been adopted at the federal level since 1986, Bevis said the time had come for Congress to act.

“There needs to be federal action,” Bevis said. “We’ve seen an increased number of undocumented workers in the United States.”

Moore also pointed to demographics to make the case for immigration reform, noting that the average couple was now having 1.7 children.

“We don’t have enough workers now in the United States and Florida,” Moore said. “It’s going to get worse.”

Drawing on his higher education background, which includes leading the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF), Moore noted many students, especially from Asia, come to the United States for graduate studies but federal policy ensures they go to other nations to work instead of staying in America.

Sayfie stressed “real conservatives” should back immigration reform and called former President Ronald Reagan a “role model” for backing the 1986 immigration changes.

“We need to get control of our border,” Sayfie said. “We need economic growth.”

Sunshine State News asked if they expected Republicans in the delegation, including those from conservative North Florida who are facing primary challengers, would be on board with immigration reform.

Cardenas insisted the 2014 election cycle was shaping up very differently than recent years for immigration reform in the GOP primaries. “It has not been a significant component in the primaries,” Cardenas answered. “The needle has moved in the right direction.”

Traditional allies of the GOP have been pushing for immigration reform this week, including Tom Donohue from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce insisting Republicans would face dire political consequences in the 2016 presidential contest if they do not pass it this year. Sal Russo, the co-founder of the Tea Party Express, announced on Wednesday that he was supporting immigration reform efforts.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

Comments (18)

5:44PM MAY 18TH 2014
I have difficulty understanding all the folks whose top priority is "secure our borders". This is a nation of immigrants. It's who we are. My solution to all this is to merge with Canada and Mexico, and as much of Central and South America as we can handle. "Secure borders", huh!
12:00AM MAY 17TH 2014
I think the GOP missed and are missing opportunity, should they have listened to Hon. John MacCain in 2008 and passed immigration reform, they may have not" beaten like drums" by Obama in recent elections b/c people who may have benefited from amnesty would have been able to vote. The other reality we face is economic, the country really needs manpower in all sectors: agriculture, construction, healthcare, Engineering, etc... lets avoid to take this beautiful country to the route of Europeans where their economy does not see an end of tunnel because they don't allow fresh blood in their population. Our country is the most powerful and beautiful because of the contributions of people from around the world. Ask your Congressman to pass immigration reform now....
Susan Fentz - Floridian Conservative
9:32PM MAY 16TH 2014
I'm going to remember these three names because they are NOT "conservatives". For one, the only reason the left is pushing for immigration reform is to get VOTES. They keep telling the GOP they're making a mistake for not passing the bill. Is the GOP so stupid they don't see the left is not our friends? Even Marco Rubio has admitted he made a mistake by joining the gang of 8.
I agree with Rubio. He would have made a great candidate in 2016, but he's really tarnished his reputation with that move.

I'm STILL waiting for the borders to be secured since 1985. Once the border is secured, then we can talk about Immigration Reform.
Hopefully, we will have a real conservative in the WH by then.

I don't know why these Progressives just don't join Charlie Crist and join the Democratic Party. They have ruined the GOP.
Thank goodness we have the Tea Party. For those of you who think bad things about the TP< you only know what the left wants you to know.
The Tea Party wants low taxes, a smaller government and most of all, they want our elected officials to keep their vows and protect the Constitution.
5:21PM MAY 17TH 2014
We know who is "ruining" the GOP - it just happens to be the Tea Party (in a general sense) as typified by attitudes like yours that demonize everyone not like you . . . . . but keep it up . . . . the "people" are increasingly realizing exactly what you Tea Party types really stand for . . . . and that knowledge is pushing the middle to the left . . . . McCarthyism also had its 5-6 year reign of terror before it was totally exposed . . . . your time is almost up . . . . . the only issue is just how much of the GOP you destroy before that reign of delusional politics is over . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
1:18PM MAY 16TH 2014
My idea of immigration reform is holding US Officials criminally liable for not enforcing the laws already on the books.

Once that is passed, then lets talk about pathways and such.
Susan Fentz - Floridian Conservative
9:25PM MAY 16TH 2014
I agree!
This is insane that these people call themselves "conservatives". Even Marco Rubio has admitted he made a mistake by joining the gang of eight.
5:10PM MAY 17TH 2014
Yes, yes, illegal immigrants are all just so evil . . . . . hmmm, please show your papers proving that native americans allowed your ancestors the right to occupy this land and propagate . . . . thought not . . . . your hypocrisy is more than a little . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
jack vance
12:09PM MAY 16TH 2014
The reason american families have a low birth rate is because wages are so low. Women and Men still have the desire for children but that just can't see how to swing it on their salary. They can't buy a bigger house and they can't afford all the added expenses like child care and saving for college. No one can afford to have a big family anymore. That is unless they are living off welfare.
Susan Fentz - Floridian Conservative
9:34PM MAY 16TH 2014
This is Obama's economy. When the country wanted him to focus on the economy and jobs, he shoved health care down our throats. It was not the time to make such a move, but he didnt care.
5:06PM MAY 17TH 2014
Gee, and here we all read SSN claiming the world's economic recovery was all due to Rick Scott . . . . didn't you get the memo . . . .

Pathetic . . . . .
9:53AM MAY 16TH 2014
Running scared . . . fearing the certain political future more than those shrill bigoted voices below . . . . . sadly . . .

Pathetic . . . .
H.E. "Pete" Ashley
9:41AM MAY 16TH 2014
What is the meaning of our citizenship when the rewards awarded to illegal aliens by the U.S. Congress and “The One” trumps the penalty for their illegal presence and gives them financial advantages over citizens and those who came here the right way?
We now have learned that ICE has released thousands of alien criminals.
8:42AM MAY 16TH 2014
I don't care if people from other countries want to come to the USA to make a better life for their families. Let them in, but they should not be eligible to vote, or have access to tax benefits especially the EIC, Child Cedit, and Educational Credits, all of which are exploited at a great expense to legal citizens. Nor access welfare of any type. You are free to pay as you go as would a tourist visiting.

Voting as a not-citizen is to carry a minimum one-year prison sentence or you can op to take your family and leave the country suspending the prison sentence indefinitely to apply if you ever return.

What people need to understand is that if you are not a citizen of the United States of America, then by definition you are a citizen of a foreign country and therefore have no legal rights to vote in our country's elections nor may you claim any Constitutional Protections that have been provided for United States Citizens only.

You may, however, apply for citizenship through the already established legal methods, while working within the above restrictions.
Susan Fentz - Floridian Conservative
9:40PM MAY 16TH 2014
Exactly. Why should they be able to vote? They have the right to apply for citizenship, wait the allotted time and THEN vote.
The left is pushing for Amnesty because they know they will get the votes. They know that many illegals will vote anyway because they say that Voter Id laws are discriminatory. (Most people have photo IDs. They need one for EVERYTHING!)

The GOP actually listens to the left - wanting to look compassionate thinking they will get the votes. Well, the left owns the media and they have painted a very negative picture of the right.
5:04PM MAY 17TH 2014
Yes, yes, it's all a conspiracy . . . . everyone's out to get you . . . no one can be trusted . . . . there's an enemy behind every Bush . . . . . simply delusional . . .

Pathetic . . . .
Ken Lovejoy
6:45AM MAY 16TH 2014
You perpetuate a lie, when you call any of the folks in this article conservative.
The word is used by liberal republicans, to try an make themselves look credible. They aren't. Particularly, the U.S. Chamber Of Commerce. Sal Russo, the hack, who calls himself a TEA Party leader? He makes Alan Grayson look viable.

Illegal aliens deserve nothing, from American taxpayers but, a bus ride home.
Susan Fentz - Floridian Conservative
9:35PM MAY 16TH 2014
How dare they call themselves conservatives? They need to join Charlie Crist and just join the Democrats.
5:01PM MAY 17TH 2014
Yes, yes, demonize everyone to the left of you . . . force them all into joining the Democrats . . . . we'll take everyone to the left of you and Rush Limbaugh . . . . cull your remaining party, viciously . . . . . so you, the Tea Party, the John Birch society, and other marginal far right types can all just fade into blissful meaninglessness . . . . . . .

Pathetic . . . .

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